St Arbucks

St Arbucks
Seeks to enhance the community, support local and global business and be the best coffee and cake shop you've tried today!

Trinity United Church sold its building, worshiped in a new community hall and bought a corner shop in the centre of the village with the vision of opening a coffee shop that functions as a ‘community hub’ with a particular focus on youth, and renting out the flat above to supplement income.



Where did the idea come from? How did it start?
Necessity is mother of invention - faced with a dwindling congregation and a chapel building that had access and maintenance problems and a brand new village Community Hall being built the congregation took the hard but obvious decision to sell and move Sunday worship. This generated funds that the Synod offered to us IF we had a viable mission project in mind - we did.

Who is it for and what needs is it meeting?
The people of the village, increasingly for the young people, any visitors in the area.

What preparation did you do?
A lot of prayer. Seeeking the support and ‘buy in / ownership’ of other local churches. Searching for the next nearest coffee shop. Researching services already available locally so as not to compete / duplicate.

What resources did you need and how did you find them?
Financial - proceeds from sale of the Chapel. Professional - accessed via the Synod

Who have been your partners in this project?
Synod. Local and regional churches. County Council. High School. Fair trade and local suppliers.

How did the congregation get on board?
Took the faithful decision to commit the finanaces. Volunteered as staff. Baked much of the produce. Bought mountains of coffee and cake! Formed the bulk of the management team. Prayed. Lots.

What were the key steps to get from idea to day 1 and how long did it take?
Sale of chapel, conversations with Synod and local churches. Researching the need / market. Revising plans (initailly was going to be a post office) Finding cornershop with flat above for sale. 2-3 years.

What legislation did you have to deal with?
Food hygiene, landlord’s legislation, allergy advice, safeguarding, health and safety, Charity law (separating the project from the church in governance and finances but not ownership and ultimate decision making). Running a URC project within an LEP.


What impact has this project had on the life of the community?
Local businesses promoted. A flat above for rent at reasonable rent in an area of expensive housing, Friendships made and strengthened by somewhere to meet. Awareness raised for various charities. Local people employed. A draw for people chosing which village to buy a house in. Donations made to local secular youth club, Scouts and Guides, Youth Cafe launched one evening a week in partnership with High School and Council.

How has this changed the relationship between the church and the community?
The Church has become more ‘visible’ Have recently invited a ‘community representative’ (someone from outside the church) to help the village take more ownership of the project.

Footfall is now over 100 per week after 2 years with many regulars using reward cards.
New partnerships being built - currently with Wiltshire Council and the local high school to launch a youth cafe one evening a week, for youth and run by youth. Initiative led by local young people. They did the market research as a school project and then ‘sold’ it to their peers at school assemblies and in class.

£2.5k Wilts Council Grant for a year. This pays to extend our cafe manager’s hours and to subside some of the menu so that the children can afford it more.
Council covered all the ‘back office’ items like policies and safeguarding, we provide the cafe and a manager to train the young people to run it. They worked with St Arbucks and the Council to create the logo, select merchandise and put the grant application to the Council. Two young people are part of the management team for Food Cave. Separate bank account etc from St Arbucks so project stands on it’s own merits.


How does the project connect with your faith and mission?
Guiding principles include improving youth work provision, bolstering village economy by being a Living Wage employer, selling Fairtrade & local produce & not competing with existing village shops & being not-for-profit. Shop has been a vehicle to promote Shoebox Appeal and other Christian Charities. Sale of Christian cards. Promotion of church events. A place where the minister is a barrista and so able to have many ‘significant’ conversations.

How has the life of the Church been transformed because of this project?
Reliance on dedication of volunteers, steady nerves, faith and creative thinking of management team. Increased confidence of congregation when they think about engaging with the locality in other initiatives. Church membership that has grown from 6 to 20+.
The church is more visible in the village both physically and in mindshare. Worship has been transformed from something we used to do in our building to soemthing we are comfortable doing wherever we find ourselves

Additional resources and web links
Synod, Synod, Synod.
Churches Together
Charity Commission
Other Church run Coffee shops - don’t reinvent the wheel.

Contact Details

St Arbucks Coffee House, 1 Church Street, Market Lavington SN10 4DT
01380 816145